A few years ago, the idea of packaging an American Bourbon into a fine French crystal decanter would have seemed risible. While Bourbon predominantly catered to the mass market, Scotch whisky and French Cognac were left to compete in the ultra-premium tier, trying to outdo each other with rare expressions packaged in handcrafted, intricately decorated bottles and decanters.
However, the demand for rare or limited-edition Bourbons has rocketed over the past decade. Is it a surprise then to see Brown-Forman unveil Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition at the recent TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes? It’s claimed to be the only American whiskey to come in a Baccarat decanter.
The design of the impressive decanter is clearly inspired by the Woodford Reserve bottle shape and boasts a crystal stopper, the engraved logos of both Woodford Reserve and Baccarat, and an accompanying red gift box in signature Baccarat red.
As for the spirit inside the decanter, Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition has been finished in French XO Cognac casks and is bottled at 45.2% ABV (90.4 proof). Priced at $1,500 (£1,160) each, Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition is set to be a global travel retail exclusive for 12 months from May 2019 before a wider release.
Of course, Scotch whisky isn’t ready to throw in the towel in terms of luxury duty-free releases anytime soon. For instance, in September Loch Lomond Group unveiled Littlemill 40 Years Old Celestial Edition at World Duty Free’s stores at London Heathrow Terminal 5, and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen international airports.
The Lowland Littlemill Distillery was one of the oldest in Scotland, producing whisky as early as 1772 in the village of Bowling on the banks of the River Clyde near Glasgow. Production eventually ceased in 1994 and the site was later destroyed by fire in 2004.
Littlemill 40 Years Old Celestial Cask is inspired by the distillery’s former American owner Duncan Thomas, who acquired the distillery in 1931 and was at the forefront of still innovation at the time. By using rectifying columns instead of swan necks on the distillery’s pot stills, he could create a variety of different whisky styles, from full-bodied to light.
The new 46.8% ABV Littlemill 40 Years Old Celestial Cask has a floral nose with hints of delicate honey and sweet spice. The palate opens with orchard and tropical fruits and then gives way to dried fruit and vanilla toffee flavours. The finish is long and spicy.
Only 250 bottles of Littlemill 40 Years Old Celestial Cask have been produced, housed in a Glencairn decanter and priced at £6,000 each. The presentation box captures an exact map of the night sky seen above the distillery on the evening that the liquid was put into the cask. Each box contains a 5cl miniature for any purchaser who wishes to sample without opening the bottle.
From a little-known distillery (pardon the pun) to one of duty free’s big-hitting malts, Glenmorangie, which has just added to its Bond House No.1 Collection of vintage releases with a new travel retail exclusive expression: Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1993. This 43% ABV whisky was matured in Bourbon casks for a decade before a long 15-year stretch in Bual Madeira casks. It’s the longest Madeira finish to be released by Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation, distilling and whisky stocks, Bill Lumsden.
Priced at around £512, Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1993 has a rich, fruity nose with some subtle smoke as well. The mouthfeel of the whisky is rich and oily and the palate offers ripe fruits, vanilla custard cocoa and gentle spice. The finish is long and sweet with flavours of milk chocolate and honey.
Lastly I wanted to mention the release of Deanston 10 Years Old Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Finish, which is now available exclusively in duty-free. Senior blender Dr. Kirstie McCallum has used a three-step blending process for this expression, combining an ex-Bourbon cask with ex-red wine casks in 2016, before blending the result with a 10-year-old Bordeaux cask-matured whisky in 2018.
Chocolate and red wine flavours dominate the palate, while sweet grape, red wine and classic Deanston honey notes come to the fore on the nose. The whisky comes in a packaging design that celebrates the distillery’s heritage and former life as a cotton mill. The bottle has a cork featuring a recessed Deanston coin, harking back to the days of the cotton mill, when countermarked French and Spanish coins were used as currency in the village.
Sadly, Deanston coins won’t buy you a bottle of Deanston 10 Years Old Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Finish these days. You’ll need around 50 real pounds for a bottle! BEST BUY
JamesonBlack Barrel Double Char Select
Dublin airport has secured a major coup by persuading Irish Distillers to create an exclusive Jameson whiskey to celebrate the ongoing expansion of The Loop in Terminal 2, the first phase of which opened earlier in the year.
Jameson Black Barrel Double Char Select is a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys that have aged in double-charred American oak barrels. The charred barrels impart this higher-strength 48% ABV whiskey with intensified notes of vanilla sweetness and caramel, alongside toasted wood, fruit, and warm spice.
Only 1,000 bottles of Jameson Black Barrel Double Char Select are available exclusively at Dublin airport.RECOMMENDED
The GlendronachForgue Aged 10 Years
The Glendronach Distillery has released its first expression exclusively for travel retail: The Glendronach Forgue Aged 10 Years
Named after the Forgue Valley, where the distillery is located, this new whisky is aged in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks and is bottled at 43% ABV. Rich and sherried in taste profile, The Glendronach Forgue Aged 10 Years is not chill filtered and has a taste redolent of bramble fruits, oak notes and ripe barley.
This expression joins the other travel retail exclusive expressions in Brown-Forman’s malt portfolio, which includes BenRiach Quarter Cask, BenRiach Quarter Cask Peated and BenRiach 10 Years Old Triple Distilled.
Jameson Black Barrel Double Char Select
GlenDronach Forgue Aged 10 Years